How to watch every Marvel property in the perfect order

Infographic: We've laid out every Marvel movie and TV show -- and the absolute ideal order for watching them -- so you can check out the latest Marvel properties superprepared.


You've probably seen most of Marvel's films, but what about the TV shows?

If you're like me, that is to say a continuity junkie, timelines are very important to you -- but timelines in the world of comics and movies can be more than a little confusing. So to either help you fill in the gaps before you get lost watching "Doctor Strange," just watch all the shows for fun, or even merely try to impress your friends, we've created a timeline of Marvel's Phase 1 and 2 properties in the perfect viewing order.

Editors' Note, October 30, 2016: Now with more "Strange"ness! Oh and a look at the "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" teaser which has got us seriously hyped. Previously: Superhuge, somewhat predictive updates have been made. As announcements about the Netflix properties and other TV shows are made, this will be amended. Think you've found a mistake? Let me know! This piece was originally published April 30, 2015, and is updated periodically.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it's called, also sometimes includes connected properties such as comics or shorts. Here we've left out smaller properties and stuck to the big two: films on the left side, shows on the right.

Marichrist Benitez and Kelly Nelson/CNET

Every film listed on the left is a single-character movie, meaning each film revolves around the title character. Some feature additional heroes (for example, Black Widow and Nick Fury appear in "Captain America: Winter Soldier"), but the movie doesn't usually delve into those characters' backgrounds too deeply.

Also, note that "The Incredible Hulk" is still skippable (we even watched it recently just to confirm) and even William Hurt ("Thunderbolt" Ross himself) has admitted it. Speaking to IGN, Hurt said that "[Ross in 'Civil War'] is different because it's a different style...And what they've done is they've taken a character who was the Ross from the older film and made a new version. This is a much newer Ross. A much different Ross." After watching both, we can confirm this is indeed the case.

You'll also notice the Marvel "One-Shots" are missing from the graphic. These are brief videos initially created as standalone stories to provide backstory for characters or things seen in the movies; two of them would later become full-fledged shows.

Marvel One-Shots

Title, release date Takes place...
The Consultant (September 2011) During the end of "Incredible Hulk"
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (October 2011) Directly before "Thor"
Item 47 (September 2012) Immediately following the Battle of New York in "Avengers"
Agent Carter (August 2013) One year after "Captain America: The First Avenger;" before "Agent Carter"
All Hail the King (February 2014) Roughly two years after "Iron Man 3;" before "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

There's definitely some continuity strangeness when you have both movies and television show properties, and those listed on the graphic are no exception.


For more on all the upcoming superhero films, click here.


Season 1 of " Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." saw the release of two Marvel movies and had to contend with incorporating those plots. Airing after the release of "Thor: The Dark World," episode 8 of "S.H.I.E.L.D." definitely takes place directly after those events. Later in the same season, episode 16 aired the same weekend as the release of "Captain America: Winter Solider," and in a neat bit of continuity, the events portrayed on "S.H.I.E.L.D." take place at almost the same time as the film.

Netflix's "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones" also have wibbly-wobbly timelines. Early in the series, the Battle of New York is referenced as The Incident, and it's said that it occurred about two years prior. But because of the show's lack of interaction with any big-screen Marvel characters, it could take place almost anywhere on the timeline between "Thor: A Dark World" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron." In our timeline, we placed it concurrent with the second season of "S.H.I.E.L.D." so as to stay closer to the time it was actually released.


As I mentioned before, the infographic above represents only Marvel's first two phases of its Cinematic Universe. Late in 2014, Marvel announced that Phase 3 would introduce Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

The latest film also gave us our first look at a couple of new characters. In what was the worst-kept secret for a while there, we finally saw Spidey in "Captain America: Civil War." It was as awesome as we expected but did raise some interesting questions. We'll see the teen web-slinger again in "Spider-Man: Homecoming," and after seeing "Civil War," I'm pretty excited for it.

This weekend "Doctor Strange" opens, which our reviewer Richard Trenholm said that "even if you're not that keen on superheroes, you owe it to your eyeballs to see this on the biggest screen you can." Which of course just got us even more excited for the other-wordly film. The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton.


Ahhhhhh Baby Groot!


Meanwhile, we're still hungry for any and all news about the films after Spidey, including "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."

Speak of the Nebula, we recently got our first awesome, hope-inspiring teaser for that rock 'n roll sequel and Drax is as literal as ever, Gamora still doesn't sound like she wants to dance and is that Yondu walking around with Rocket?! Hooked.

For example, in addition to the spectacular laundry list of stars set to appear in the film (and less Natalie Portman), it turns out "Ragnarok" is going to be a buddy movie with Thor and Hulk! Judging by the pretty sweet-looking Hulk battle armor being revealed this year at Comic-Con, I'm in.

Also, Marvel recently released footage of the god on vacay (you know, when the Avengers didn't need him for anything in that little tiff they all had?), and we're decidedly Team Thor.

Attendees of the Marvel panel at SDCC got an exclusive first look at "GOTG2" -- there were scattered reports of what it entailed, but the footage won't be released online, according to director James Gunn -- and news about Kurt Russell and Sly Stallone and their roles in the film.

OH! And let's not forget that Brie Larson will be playing Carol Danvers in 2019's "Captain Marvel". With a cast announcement so soon, what're the odds we'll see her character well before her own film arrives?

Up next, though, is "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", with its fourth season premiere at 10 p.m., Tuesday, September 20. This season will feature the addition of Ghost Rider, but whether he's a friend or a foe is still unknown. But this isn't the Nic Cage version, instead, "S.H.I.E.L.D." features Roberto "Robbie" Reyes, who drives a muscle car instead of a motorcycle, he's played by Gabriel Luna of "True Detective."

Ten long days later, "Luke Cage" premieres on Netflix (September 30). Starring Mike Colter as the unbreakable man, the show increased its hip-hop mass appeal when it named every episode after Gang Starr songs.

When Colter spoke to CNET Magazine, he mentioned that the humanity of Luke Cage is a big part of what he thinks resonates with people.

"A big part of what separates the Netflix kind of Marvel Cinematic Universe from the films is its ability to stay away from 'quote, unquote' superheroes, mysticism and alien interference. So yeah, I feel like it's got its own audience. Our characters you know, we do tread some of the same territories as people [in real life]...We're doing something different -- not better, but just different. You can have both."

After a warm reception, we're still waiting to see if "Luke Cage" will receive a second season, though I imagine the only reason it wouldn't might be because the future is quite Marvel packed. Here are the rest of the upcoming Marvel-Netflix shows, plus what we know.

  • "Iron Fist": Season 1 is still TBA. At San Diego Comic-Con in July, we got our first look at the show (above). Welcome back Danny Rand.
  • "The Defenders": Miniseries TBA. So little is known about this property so far it's crazy. Now that we have our main roles cast, things could very well get rolling.
  • "The Punisher" : Season 1, TBA. Jon Bernthal stars, and it was recently announced that Ben Barnes ("Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" and upcoming "Westworld") may play his nemesis.
  • "Jessica Jones": Green-lit for a second season, there's no formal word on when it will premiere. It doesn't hurt that the show just became the first Marvel Television property to win an Emmy.
  • "Daredevil": Season 3 was announced at SDCC...and that's about all we know for now.

Also on the small screen, Disney's ABC Family, I mean, Freeform ordered " Marvel's Cloak and Dagger" straight to series. While it's unknown how or if this will fit within the current MCU, the possibility for crossover is high, since the duo have appeared in various other properties, including "Civil War." (It's included on the timeline above for now, but may need to get removed once more information comes out.)


If you're wondering about "Legion" even though it's not an MCU property but an X-Men one, head here.


Once upon a time there was to be a "S.H.I.E.L.D." spin-off with Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood starring as Bobbi Morse (aka Mockingbird) and Lance Hunter. It's dead now, sadly. After we got our first look at the logo and heard that Oded Fehr ("Covert Affairs") had joined the pilot cast, I really thought it had a chance.

Also gone this year? "Agent Carter." Fans are calling for Netflix to pick up the program and fit in into its slate, but the show doesn't really fit the theme of the other Marvel-Netflix properties. I'm only a little sorry it's gone, mostly because I'm looking forward to seeing Hayley Atwell in "Conviction" this fall.

Previously, " Damage Control" was in development as a single-camera sitcom that would focus on the men and women who clean up after the Avengers and other superheroes destroy, say, an office building. No official word has been released about that show, but a program about superhero insurance? Well, turns out NBC may have stolen some of that comedy thunder with it's announcement of "Powerless."

Are those other ABC-Marvel mystery projects (yes, multiples) still moving forward? No word for sure on those either, but since they still haven't been announced, we're pretty sure they won't be coming soon.

The growth of the Marvel universe is extraordinary (har-har), and as the comics giant introduces new fans to new characters (some people had no idea who Doctor Strange was a couple of years ago) and partners with cable television and Netflix to expand even further, we could seem some pretty epic pairings, teams and characters come out of the woodwork.

So, be honest. Which characters would you want to see in Marvel's not-yet-announced-but-certainly-inevitable Phase 4 on both the small and big screen?